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Mine Closure

Planned or actual closure planning - and related impacts on workers, local communities and the environment.

Why was Mine Closure a Material Topic in 2015?

There is an increasing global expectation that companies fully understand and manage the long-term economic, social and environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of their products and activities. Planning for the completion of activities and the effective implementation of those plans in consultation and collaboration with communities is a critical part of life cycle management. 

As a result of the downturn in commodity prices, many companies in the industry announced the sale, temporary closure or acceleration of permanent closure of mines. Closure of an operation leads to decline in employment, local procurement, community investment and infrastructure development. If managed improperly, closed mine sites can also pose safety and environmental risks due to the equipment, tailings and facilities left following the activities of mining. Companies must plan effectively to mitigate these risks, and implement those plans diligently to support local communities and ecosystems. 

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Planning for Integrated Mine Closure Toolkit - ICMM

Being in business for over 100 years, we have a large portfolio of legacy properties and a number of existing operations that are progressing towards closure. Responsibly closing our sites and managing our legacy properties is an essential element of our sustainability performance. We focus on responsibly ending mining operations by developing viable, long-term and appropriately diverse post-closure land uses and supporting communities, including former employees, in their “post-mine” transition.  

In 2015, we had three significant events related to closure: we ceased operations at Duck Pond Operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, due to exhaustion of reserves and began implementing the closure plan; we suspended further work on the Coal Mountain Phase 2 project due to economic conditions, which means the current operations will cease in 2017, and accelerated closure planning activities; and we completed the bulk of our activities at our previously closed Sa Dena Hes property in the Yukon Territories.

Performance Highlights

33%

of our current operations have comprehensive closure plans, with the remaining
operations working through the phases of closure planning as appropriate to mine life.
The calculation is based on our 12 mine operations, and excludes our Trail smelting operations.

198

hectares (ha) of land were reclaimed and 524 ha were disturbed by
our activities in 2015, compared to 101 ha reclaimed and 908 ha disturbed in 2014.

Our Targets and Commitments

We are committed to responsibly ending mining operations by developing and implementing closure plans with communities of interest. 

How Does Teck Manage Mine Closure?

We are committed to responsibly ending mining operations by developing and implementing closure plans with communities of interest (COIs). There are three phases of mine closure that extend from the beginning of the mining life cycle until the mine is permanently closed: closure planning, closure and post-closure management.

Given the long life of many of our mines, and to ensure that closure plans are relevant at the time that an operation ultimately closes, closure planning is a phased activity conducted in collaboration with our communities of interest. 

Mine closure is supported by corporate staff and managed at a site level by a cross-functional group that typically includes experts in mine planning, community, Indigenous Peoples, water and biodiversity. Closure planning begins early in a mine’s life, with development of a conceptual closure plan relevant to the particular operation. This plan is periodically updated over the life of the operation, and research into reclamation and other closure issues is conducted. Closure planning intensifies as a mine begins to near the end of its life, when all conditions of the operation and its effect on local economies and government are known. 

Closure plans include consideration of:

  • Water management including long-term quality
  • Stability of landforms and water courses
  • Socio-economic impacts on local communities
  • Input from communities
  • Biodiversity, ecosystems, and possible post-closure uses
  • Post-closure management requirements
  • Cost-effective execution


Each closure plan is developed to address unique characteristics of the site and regulatory requirements of the particular jurisdiction. We engage with COIs in the planning process to ensure the concerns and priorities of local communities and Indigenous Peoples are taken into consideration. Through closure and into post-closure management, our teams focus on achieving and maintaining the commitments outlined in the closure plan.

Community Engagement
At closure, community engagement activities focus on reducing the impact of workforce reductions, fewer procurement opportunities, decline in community investment and revenues from tax and royalties. We engage with employees, suppliers and government to effectively mitigate these social risks.

Table 13: Community Engagement Through the Stages of Mine Closure 

Before Mining

During Mining

After Mining

Early engagement with communities of interest (COIs)

•develop relationships

•inform and involve before any activity

•engage in closure planning for exploration activities

•research and studies

•site design and planning

•permitting and approvals

•biodiversity baseline development

 

Closure planning (conceptual):

•identify closure objectives

•outline progressive and post-closure reclamation

•forecast mine life and closure date

•assess social impacts and mitigation strategies

•estimate cost of closure and reclamation

Engagement with COIs

•build on relationships

•engage in progressively detailed closure planning

•prepare employees and COIs for closure

 

Construction

•prepare land and erect infrastructure

•store soil and waste rock for reuse in reclamation, operation and production

 

Progressive reclamation

•grow plants and trees for transplant

•rehabilitate disturbed areas no longer required

Closure planning (detailed)

•in collaboration with COIs, expand upon closure and end land use plan

•incorporate new issues, research and practices

•begin detailed planning as closure nears

Engagement with COIs

•support employees and COIs through transition

 

Closure

•shut down operations and decommission site 

•remove and properly dispose of any hazardous materials

•implement closure which includes the following components:

°wildlife conservation

°Indigenous Peoples’ subsistence activities (e.g., hunting and gathering)

°recreation

°agriculture

°economic development projects

 

Reclamation

•slope and contour waste rock piles

•cap or cover and revegetate with plants and trees

•close or reclaim water features

 

Post-Closure

•manage water quality

•conduct ongoing monitoring

°identify further reclamation initiatives

•ongoing care and maintenance

•evaluate success of end land use objectives

°maintain public access management and safety

Developing Guidance for Community Engagement During Closure Planning Through the SMART Framework

Within the Social Management and Responsibility at Teck (SMART) Framework, our Social Closure Planning Tool provides sites with a process to identify issues, undertake engagement planning, and co-develop closure plans that address community concerns and priorities. 

Table 14: Social Impacts of Closure Planning Tool

 

Step

Description

Reach out internally and gather relevant information

  • Establish a team who will be responsible for planning each component (e.g., environment, engineering/operations, legal, community engagement) and determine how social closure considerations will be integrated throughout the plan
  • Compile documents related to closure and social management to ensure that the team has the right data

Establish a post-mining vision, goals and objectives jointly with COIs

  • Work with COIs to understand community priorities post-closure
  • Collaborate to define vision, goals and objectives

Identify closure-related risks, opportunities, commitments and impacts

  • Identify the main drivers of social closure-related activities:
    • risks (primary social and socio-economic risks)
    • opportunities (how closure can generate value for us and for our COIs)
    • commitments (how we have committed and are obligated to our COIs by law, through agreements, and through commitments we have made)

Develop engagement plan

  • Develop Social Closure Engagement Plan

Assess viability of community/communities without Teck

  • Assess how the community changed from pre-Teck to current state and the level of dependency; if dependency risks exist, identify partners, capacity training, and resources as mitigation

Incorporate into closure plan

  • Use the post-mining vision and goals to establish closure-related objectives with indicators of success and assign resources for implementation

After operations end permanently, a site enters the closure phase and subcommittees that manage reclamation and community engagement are activated.  

Reclamation
Our objectives for reclamation are to conserve and enhance biodiversity and to facilitate new, productive uses of areas disturbed by mining. At closure, reclamation activities return the remaining disturbed land to a stable state for post-mining land uses (e.g., wetlands, various wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation, and alternative industrial use). Activities include:

  • Removing and properly disposing of any hazardous materials
  • Removal of unneeded infrastructure
  • Implementing long-term water management 
  • Ensuring stable landforms and water courses
  • Resloping and contouring waste rock piles as necessary
  • Capping or covering and vegetating waste rock piles
  • Closing or reclaiming water features, including tailings facilities
  • Managing any contaminated soil


Through reclamation, we can replace much of the structural and compositional diversity of the natural habitats that existed before we developed our mines. We implement leading reclamation practices and have created an internal community of practice to share knowledge across our operations. For example, we have won awards for our reclamation at numerous operations including Cardinal River, Highland Valley Copper, Elkview and legacy properties including Pinchi Lake, Sa Dena Hes and Sullivan. To plan for future reclamation obligations, we ensure that we allocate sufficient resources for reclamation in our mine budgets. Follow the link to learn more about reclamation and our approach to biodiversity

Once our operating sites are closed, they are monitored and managed as required on a long-term basis by our Legacy Properties team with expertise in contaminated sites assessment and remediation, tailings storage facility management, reclamation, project management and water treatment. Their job is to ensure that our closure actions remain successful in achieving key objectives, which cover landform stability, habitat rehabilitation, public safety, and water quality protection, and include monitoring of structures such as dams and rock piles, water treatment, and access controls over portions of the site. We track more than 100 legacy properties, actively monitor 29 of these properties and carry out ongoing management actions on 23 sites, including the Sullivan mine in Kimberley, B.C., Louvicourt in Quebec and Sa Dena Hes in the Yukon.

In addition to monitoring sites closed in recent years, we continually assess and manage conditions at older mining and industrial operations that were operated by Teck or its predecessors and remain under our stewardship. Given the more than 100-year history of our company, some of our historical properties were closed during eras when the long-term risks associated with mining and industrial sites were not well understood. Consequently, the closure methods used at these sites did not always conform to currently accepted practices. 

As such, we have developed a centralized legacy properties database for closed properties that helps us to better understand, prioritize and manage these sites. We assign priorities for assessment and management and in many cases we implement additional closure practices at these properties according to current practices. 

What was Our Performance in Mine Closure in 2015?

We report on the annual area of land distributed, reclaimed and yet to be reclaimed as well as the total area of land reclaimed and our total footprint in 2015. Furthermore, we provide a summary of provisions and closure plans. 

At the end of 2015, Teck had a total footprint of 29,301 hectares (ha) of which 22,808 ha are yet to be reclaimed and 6,493 ha had been reclaimed. During 2015, 478 ha of land were disturbed while 198 ha were reclaimed. As this data relates to active operations, the area of land yet to be reclaimed will generally increase over time until the mining areas are closed and reclaimed.

Table 15: Area Reclaimed and Distributed 1,2,3

 

2015

2014

2013

Area reclaimed during the current year (ha)

198

77

434

Area disturbed during the current year (ha)

478

908

310

Area of land yet to be reclaimed (ha)

22,808

22,414

20,791

Total area of land reclaimed (ha)

6,493

6,438

6,357

Total footprint (ha)

29,301

28,852

27,148

(1) The area of land disturbed in the current year may include land that was previously reclaimed and has been re-disturbed. The area of land reclaimed during the current year may include land that was previously reclaimed but subsequently disturbed. The total area of land reclaimed may decrease in a year due to unsuccessful reclamation attempts or the mining of a previously reclaimed area. Total footprint is the sum of total area of land yet to be reclaimed and total area of land reclaimed.
(2) Data has been restated due to changes in our accounting approach for our footprint.
(3) This data only applies to active operations with the exception of Duck Pond Operations, which closed in June 2015.

Outlook for Closure Planning

Addressing mine closure issues, including early engagement with COIs on closure planning, is helping us to align Teck’s business interests with local priorities and we anticipate that this alignment will bring better and more cost-effective outcomes.  We will continue to ensure that our mine closure activities—from closure planning to progressive reclamation to post-closure management—effectively manage risk and meet or exceed our commitments. In 2016, we will focus on mine closure planning at Coal Mountain Operations and implementation of the closure plan at Duck Pond Operations. 

Responsible Mine Closure & Reclamation

We begin planning for responsible mine closure begins before mining even starts, and that work carries on throughout the lifecycle of the operation, in cooperation with Indigenous peoples and local communities.
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Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with business units focused on copper, zinc, steelmaking coal and energy.